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to prove that what is necessary to be believed by every Christian is necessary to be believed to make a man a Christian, in these words : " But he will say, the belief of those propositions makes not a man a Christian. Then, I say, they are not necessary and indispensable; for what is absolutely necessary in Christianity, is absolutely requisite to make a man a Christian.”
Ignorance, or something worse, makes our creedmaker always speak doubtfully or obscurely, whenever he pretends to argue; for here“ absolutely necessary in Christianity,” either signifies nothing, but absolutely necessary to make a man a Christian; and then it is proving the same proposition by the same proposition; or else has a very obscure and doubtful signification. For if I ask him, Whether it be absolutely necessary in Christianity to obey every one of our Saviour's commands, what will he answer me? If he answers, No; I ask him, Which of our Saviour's commands is it not, in Christianity, absolutely necessary to obey ? If he answers, Yes; then I tell him, by this rule, there are no Christians; because there is no
: one that does in all things obey all our Saviour's commands, and therein fails to perform what is absolutely necessary in Christianity, and so, by his rule, is no Christian. If he answers, Sincere endeavour to obey is all that is absolutely necessary; I reply, And so sincere endeavour to understand is all that is absolutely necessary: neither perfect obedience, nor perfect understanding, is absolutely necessary in Christianity.
But his proposition, being put in terms clear, and not loose and fallacious, should stand thus, viz. “ What is absolutely necessary to every Christian, is absolutely requisite to make a man a Christian.” But then I deny that he can infer from Mr. Bold's words, that those propositions (i. e. which he has set down as fundamental, or necessary to be believed) are absolutely necessary to be believed by every Christian. For that indispensable necessity Mr. Bold speaks of is not absolute, but conditional. His words are, “ A Christian must believe as many articles as he shall attain to know that Jesus Christ hạth taught.” So that he
places the indispensable necessity of believing upon the condition of attaining to know that Christ taught so. An endeavour to know what Jesus Christ taught, Mr, B—-d says truly, is absolutely necessary to every one who is a Christian; and to believe what he has attained to know that Jesus Christ taught, that also, he says, is absolutely necessary to every Christian. But all this granted (as true it is), it still remains (and eternally will remain) to be proved from this (which is all that Mr. Bold says), that something else is absolutely required to make a man a Christian, besides the unfeigned taking Jesus to be the Messiah, his King, and Lord ; and accordingly, a sincere resolution to obey and be lieve all that he commanded and taught.
The gaoler, Acts xvi. 30, in answer to his question, “ What he should do to be saved ?” was answered, “ That he should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And the text says, that the gaoler " took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." Now, I will ask our creed-maker, whether St. Paul, in speaking to him the word of the Lord, proposed and explained to him all those propositions and fundamental heads of doctrine, which our creed-maker has set down as necessary to be believed to make a man a Christian? Let it be considered the gaoler was a heathen, and one that seems to have no more sense of religion or humanity than those of that calling use to have : for he had let them alone under the pain of their stripes without any remedy, or so much as the ease of washing them, from the day before, until after his conversion, which was not until after midnight. And can any one think, that between his asking what he should do to be saved, and his being baptized, which, the text says, was the same hour, and straightway; there was time enough for St. Paul and Silas to explain to him all the creedmaker's articles, and make such a man as that, and all his house, understand the creed-maker's whole system; especially, since we hear nothing of it in the conversion of these, or any others who were brought into the faith, in the whole history of the preaching of our Saviour and
the apostles? Now let me ask the creed-maker, whether the gaoler was not a Christian when he was baptized; and whether, if he had then immediately died, he had not been saved, without the belief of any one article more than what Paul and Silas had then taught him ? Whence it follows, that what was then proposed to him to be believed (which appears to be nothing, but that Jesus was the Messiah), was all that was absolutely necessary to be believed to make him a Christian; though this hinders not, but that afterwards it might be necessary for him, indispensably necessary, to believe other articles, when he attained to the knowledge that Christ had taught them. And the reason of it is plain: because the knowing that Christ hath taught any thing, and the not receiving it for true, (which is believing it) is inconsistent with the believing him to be the Messiah, sent from God to enlighten and save the world. Every word of divine revelation is absolutely and indispensably necessary to be believed by every Christian, as soon as he comes to know it to be taught by our Saviour or his apostles, or to be of divine revelation. But yet this is far enough from making it absolutely necessary to every Christian, to know every text in the Scripture, much less to understand every text in the Scripture ; and least of all, to understand it as the creed-maker is pleased to put his sense upon it.
This the good creed-maker either will not or cannot understand; but gives us a list of articles culled out of the Scripture by his own authority, and tells us, those are absolutely necessary to be believed by every one, to make him a Christian. For what is of absolute necessity in Christianity, as those, he says, are, he tells us, is absolutely requisite to make a man a Christian. But when he is asked, Whether these are all the articles of absolute necessity to be believed to make a man a Chri. stian ? this worthy divine, that takes upon himself to be a successor of the apostles, cannot tell. And yet, having taken upon himself also to be a creed-maker, he must suffer himself to be called upon for it again and again, until he tells us what is of absolute necessity to be believed to make a man a Christian, or confess that he cannot.
In the mean time, I take the liberty to say, that every proposition delivered in the New Testament by our Saviour, or his apostles, and so received by any Christian as of divine revelation, is of as absolute necessity to be assented to by him, in the sense he understands it to be taught by them, as any one of those propositions enumerated by the creed-maker: and if he thinks otherwise, I shall desire him to prove it. The reason whereof is this, that in divine revelation, the ground of faith being the only authority of the proposer : where that is the same, there is no difference in the obligation or measure of believing. Whatever the Messiah, that came from God, taught, is equally to be believed by every one who receives him as the Messiah, as soon as he understands what it was he taught. There is no such thing as garbling his doctrine, and making one part of it more necessary to be believed than another, when it is understood. His saying is, and must be, of unquestionable authority to all that receive him as their heavenly King; and carries with it an equal obligation of assent to all that he says as true. But since nobody can explicitly assent to any proposition of our Saviour's as true, but in the sense he understands our Saviour to have spoken it in; the same authority of the Messiah,
! his King, obliges every one absolutely and indispensably to believe every part of the New Testament in that sense he understands it; for else he rejects the authority
; of the deliverer, if he refuses his assent to it in that sense which he is persuaded it was delivered in. But the taking him for the Messiah, his King and Lord, laying upon every one who is his subject an obligation to endeavour to know his will in all things; every true Christian is under an absolute and indispensable necessity, by being his subject, to study the Scriptures with an unprejudiced mind, according to that measure of time, opportunity, and helps which he has ; that in these sacred writings he may find what his Lord and Master hath by himself, or by the mouths of his apostles, required of him, either to be believed or done.
The creed-maker, in the following page, 256, hath these words: “It is worth the reader's observing, that notwithstanding I had in twelve pages together
(viz. from the eighth to the twentieth) proved, that several propositions are necessary to be believed by us, in order to our being Christians; yet this shamanimadverter attends not to any one of the particulars which I had mentioned, nor offers any thing against them; but only, in a lumping way, dooms them all in those magisterial words : " I do not see any proof he produces,” p. 21. “ This is his wonderful way of confuting me, by pretending that he cannot see any proof in what I allege: and all the world must be led by his eyes.”
Answ. “ It is worth the reader's observing," that the creed-inaker does not reply to what Mr. Bold has said to him, as we have already seen, and shall see more as we go on, and therefore he has little reason to complain of him, for not having answered enough. Mr. Bold did well to leave that which was an insignificant lump, so as it was, together, for it is no wonderful thing not to see any proof, where there is no proof. There is, indeed, in those pages the creed-maker mentions, much confidence, much assertion, a great many questions asked, and a great deal said after his fashion ; but for a proof, I deny there is any one. And if what
. I have said in another place already does not convince him of it, I challenge him, with all his eyes, and those of the world to boot, to find out, in those twelve renowned pages, one proof. Let him set down the proposition, and his proof of its being absolutely and indispensably necessary to be believed to make a man a Christian; and I too will join with him in his testimonial of himself, that he is irrefragable. But I must tell him beforehand, talking a great deal loosely will not do it. Mr. Bold and I say we cannot see any proof in those
I twelve pages: the way to make us see, or to convince the world that we are blind, is to single out one proof out of that wood of words there, which you seem to take for arguments, and set it down in a syllogism, which is the fair trial of a proof or no proof. You have, indeed, a syllogism in the 23d page; but that is not in those twelve pages you mention. Besides, I